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We really do think we’re losing now, don’t we?

March 28, 2012

A headline from a Financial Times editorial leapt out at me yesterday and it came shortly after an interesting piece – picked up by the Economist – from The New Republic who posted views from experts from 2010 and then compared them to their views today.  You should definitely read the TNR piece, but, while you’re here…It has just struck me that it might be useful, albeit depressing, to gather together a cross-section of what the more reputable analytical and media circles are now saying about the political/military prospects for Afghanistan.  You might like to pause and reflect on this:

“The West has lost in Afghanistan”, Financial Times, 27 Mar 2012

“…a war-losing crisis over the growing tensions…It may be too late to solve these problems…there are just too many problems and issues…”, CSIS, 19 Mar 2012

“I do not believe that the war in Afghanistan can be won by anyone except the Afghans, and I do not believe that they will win it”, Leon Wieseltier, 22 Mar 2012

“The political foundation for the military transition strategy is pretty shaky…My fear is that the center will not hold when 2014 arrives. All this technocratic planning on transition and security handover—that whole narrative—depends on there being a political center and a government that’s unified enough, with security forces that aren’t crumbling, to prevent an ethnic-based civil war that’s even worse than the one we have right now”, Steve Coll, 22 Mar 2012

“The three recent gruesome incidents only highlight that Afghanistan is facing a serious political, military, and social meltdown”, Ahmed Rashid, 22 Mar 2012,

“Afghanistan’s fading hopes”, The Economist, 17 Mar 2012,

“President Obama is determined to drawdown to that infinite training mission and ride out the rest of his term. None of the problems of the war are being addressed, and we’re going to leave a horrible mess when we finally give up and come home”, Joshua Foust, 13 Mar 2012,

“Debilitated by internal political divisions and external pressures, the Karzai government is poorly positioned to cut a deal with leaders of the insurgency. Afghanistan’s security forces are ill-prepared to handle the power vacuum that will occur following the exit of international troops…To avoid another civil war, a major course correction is needed”, The International Crisis Group, 26 Mar 2012,

And amongst all this negativity, with the possible exception of the ICG (of which more later), I didn’t see anyone leaping forward with much in the way of constructive ideas for the future.  Five years ago we were awash with shiny new plans and strategies.  Perhaps that was one of the problems…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2012 6:03 am

    I’ve lost track of the threads of this continuing tragedy. Who is financing the Taliban? What role does Al Qaeda play at this stage? The central government is a joke, and continuing to weaken–therefore where are the regional governors/”warlords” in protecting their interests and people?

  2. March 28, 2012 12:16 pm

    Hi Ron – I’ve tried to answer it in my next post…



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